Wayne Kelly is on the mark
Carbonear resident headed to world darts stage
Carbonear resident Wayne Kelly got an early start in the sport of darts.
As a youngster, the 54-year-old got a dart board one Christmas from his mother. It was an old fashion model with cardboard in the middle and plastic wiring along the front.
The ones today are made with sisal fibres and last a fair amount of time.
It wasn’t long before Kelly was looking for a new board. His consistent assault on the board soon had an adverse affect on his new toy.
“Before Christmas was over, I think I had it all worn out,” he told The Compass last week. “It’s been a number of years now and I’m always playing darts.
Fast-forward a couple of decades and Kelly is turning that childhood pastime into a serviceable skill.
It’s taken him from throwing darts in his local league to challenging the best this country has to offer in places like Montreal and Vancouver.
Kelly has been successful everywhere he’s gone and in June he was named a member of Canada’s entry in the upcoming World Master’s Dart Championship being held in Camberley, Surrey in the United Kingdom Dec. 1-4.
He joins Vincent Noseworthy from Grand Falls-Windsor on the team. Kelly received the opportunity after a strong showing at the Canadian Adult National Darts Championships held in Richmond last summer.
There, he finished first in men’s doubles, joint third in men’s singles and was a part of this province’s entry that finished second in the Nodor Knockout Cup.
His performance landed him third overall with the top four going to the world tournament.
“It’s a big thing, I tell ya,” said Kelly. “It’s hard to do. I’ve been trying to get there a long time.”
Since finding out he’d been selected to Team Canada, Kelly has been throwing as many darts as he can, wherever he can.
Whether it’s in his home league at the Harbour Breeze in Harbour Grace or in his basement, there’s been plenty of time allotted for training.
“Really, you should be playing a lot of tournaments,” said Kelly. “It keeps you sharp.”
Prior to the tournament, he headed to his cabin for a week moose hunting and there’s even a dartboard there.
When you think of darts, you don’t necessarily think of training extensively for a competition. Yet, the athletes have to keep their body in fine form and their mind sharp too.
“You’re just trying to get in shape really,” he said. “It’s the entire game. You can’t just be finishing. You’ve got to score, you’ve got to hit your triples, your doubles and the bull’s-eye sometimes. It all comes into play.”
Darts is as much mental as it is physical. Athletes need to be able to move beyond the bad shot and keep focus as the game moves forward. There’s always another dart to throw and thinking about it can cause problems in a high stakes game like the one Kelly finds himself in next month.
“There are some days you’re off and anybody can beat you. Some days you’re on and you’re as good as some of the best in the world. Whichever one you’re going to have, you don’t know,” he said. “You’ve got to be prepared for this. You can’t think ahead. You gotta focus on who you’re playing, what you’re playing. There’s a lot of good players out there.”
“You’ve got three darts and you’ve got to make every one of them work.”
Darts is a different animal on the other side of the Atlantic. Crowds on this side are a bit more subdued, whereas fans get a bit out of hand when in England. They’re drinking, shouting and generally having a wild time as they pull for their favourite player.
Outside football — soccer — it’s believed to be the second biggest sport in the England.
Kelly is looking forward to getting into that environment.
“You’re expectations can’t be too high your first time trying,” said Kelly. “You’re going to be tight and a bit nervous.”
This will be his first time heading to England and it’s darts that is taking him there.
“I never thought I’d get here because of darts,” said Kelly. “It’s a hard thing to do.”